The thing with being hot (as in, temperature-wise - this isn’t Goop) is that your appetite is all over the shop. Literally. One minute you’re in the freezers eyeing up a Solero and the next you’re staring at a bag of Babybels and at the tub of hummus in your hand. You don’t know what you want, but you know you want to eat things, to graze, but to not be weighed down. You essentially want to go on a series of one night stands with plates of food. You just want a bit of this and a bit of that and, importantly, you want it outside in the glorious sunshine. These are some excellent restaurants for just that.
As the sun shines down Exmouth Market you look down and pause at the single cumin lamb chop sitting between you, your carafe, and your friend. You can share beetroot borani, yes. Nibble on croquetas, sure. You’ll even share a slice of tortilla. But a lamb chop? That’s too far. You order another chop.
Bits to order: Lamb chop, patatas bravas, crispy aubergine with whipped feta
Picture this: you’re on the pavement in Bloomsbury, it’s a tranquil summer’s day, you’ve got a glass of champagne in one hand and a smear of potted shrimp on toast in the other, your friend has just skipped ahead and ordered some comté - because why not - and you look down at the menu and see five words: mint choc chip ice cream. That’s Café Deco.
Bits to order: Terrine, bread, wine, and homemade ice cream
An intrinsic part of any nibble-focused meal is bread. You spoon a dollop of shallot yoghurt, you wipe it up with bread. You eat a chunk of lamb, you wash it down with bread. You enter a conversation you’re not keen on, you muffle yourself out of it with bread. It’s key, it’s essential, and Patogh’s big special Persian bread - roughly the size of a sombrero - is sensational.
Bits to order: Big Special Bread, mixed starters, minced chicken
Fish, Wings & Tings
You can probably do the maths on this one, but Fish, Wings, and Tings serves, erm, fish, wings, and tings. A super cheerful Caribbean spot in Brixton, the mood is always first-day-of-the-holiday upbeat, and the food is very solid. On the right sunny day, we urge you to bring a few of your favorite people and commence our beloved pastime of ‘having a laugh whilst dipping things in sweet mango sauce’.
Bits to order: Cod fish fritters, the reggae wings, and of course, the jerk chicken.
Having a mouthful of this and a handful of that is at the heart of Ethiopian eating, which makes Zeret Kitchen a must. Sit outside the Camberwell favourite with a beer and a full platter of injera, misir wot, lamb tibs, and whatever else. Get a table out front, get comfortable and, most importantly, get involved.
Bits to order: Ye-timatim salata, a combination platter, an ice cold beer
Llerena is one of those comforting restaurants that’s always there for you on your worst days (realising Taylor Swift is 30 and you’re officially old) and your best days (it’s a Saturday, the sun’s shining, and my god, look how your churros are glistening in the sunshine). On Upper Street, you can always count on this place for quality tapas all the way from Extremadura. That’s classy.
Bits to order: Iberico ham, a substantial amount of cheese, and the morcillo mondonga.
Everyone knows that seafood and sunshine are ~chef’s kiss~. What everyone doesn’t know is that seafood, sunshine, and a little table in Dalston is also the perfect summer equation. Cured sardines, crispy cuttlefish, and pollock sashimi are all on the menu at Oren. As is an excellent choice of cocktails and wine.
Bits to order: Mezze, deep-fried cuttlefish, and grilled asparagus because greens
King’s Cross Road may not be the most, er, scenic of locations but who cares when you’ve got a small city of steamer baskets to marvel at instead. Nothing basks in sunlight quite so beautifully as a glistening plate of roasted duck, or a fat tunnel of slick char siu-filled cheung fun. There are only a couple of tables outside here, so make sure you’re on one of them.
Bits to order: Pork dumplings in chilli sauce, roasted meats, any cheung fun
Levan is a classy little Peckham spot that serves seriously excellent small plates which definitely constitute a bit of this, bit of that situation. That being said, when the the comté fries alone are so good that you’ll consider changing your name to Saffron Aioli, it’s quite hard to not ‘accidentally’ keep on ordering. After all, you don’t want your glass of natural wine to get lonely on its own, do you?
Bits to order: Duck rillettes, burrata, and our lord and saviour, the comté fries.
There are few better places in London to be than Green Lanes when you want to pick on this, that, and get another basket of warm flatbread to go alongside whatever. Gökyüzü is obviously the go-to and the legendary Turkish spot has a solid setup for a picky bits lunch or an elongated dinner.
Bits to order: Manti, kofte, and a skipload of cacik
There are lots of London small plates restaurants that are good and in fact, great, for grazing - but Quality Wines might just be the best of the lot. Be it springy oily focaccia, a plate of risotto, or just some really perfect tomatoes - the five or six dish menu is always a joyful meal to slowly get through.
Bits to order: Gilda, focaccia, and negroni to get you going
Picture this: a cricket field, benches, sofas, brisket, lamb barbacoa, buffalo chicken wings. Happiness. And now picture you, sitting in the sunshine, eating a platter with all of that. Yes, we’re talking bit of this, bit of that heaven at Cue Point, a British Afghan catering company turned nationwide delivery guardian angel over lockdown, who have now set up shop in The Chiswick Pavilion. Dreamy.
Bits to order: Lamb chops, the brisket bun, and dirty sweetcorn, all courtesy of the £19 create-your-own platter.
Soho in summer screams ambling about in a martini haze looking for somewhere to stick your bum in order to continue the slurping and slow stuffing. Enter, Mr Ji. The Taiwanese spot is a cocktail and chicken specialist, but there’s cold noodles, prawn toast, and onigiri to nibble on as well.
Bits to order: Rice martini, PSC, prawn in toast
At La Chingada your spirit animal will quickly become an octopus with a taste for tacos and many many salsas and sauces. Odds are your sunny (our fingers are crossed) Surrey Quays pavement-side table will be overflowing colours and quesadillas as well. So don’t be polite, reach across, and get a bit of everything.
Bits to order: Chorizo tacos, chicken wings, and fistful of napkins
Everything is a seat and/or potential dining table in the summer. A patch of grass, an unused market stall, a perfectly sized wall for leaning and nibbling on. You want to bear this in mind when you’re picking up jerk and patties and whatever else from Ewarts. Because what this Caribbean spot lacks in actual seating it more than makes up for in flavour.
Bits to order: Jerk pork belly, wings, plantain
The world’s most beloved power couple, jamon y queso, is the order of the day at Little Taperia. This great little Spanish spot in Tooting is all about the classics. We’re talking patatas bravas, garlic prawns, and croquetas. You should get involved in all of the above, partly because everything here is pretty affordable, but mostly because you’ll want an excuse to stay here as long as possible as soon as the sun comes out. Don’t skip the churros either. Because, chocolate.
Bits to order: the jamon y queso tabla mixta, Morcilla scotch eggs, and old faithful, croquetas.
If sitting in a car park drinking low-intervention wine whilst eating steak tartare and deep-fried skate wing bites with anchovy and lemon sounds like an absolutely ridiculous thing to do then let us tell you, don’t bother. Because we’ll more than happily take your space at Bright.
Bits to order: Wine, wine, all the bits that sounds good
London’s most legendary tapas restaurants are still very much 10/10 spots to cosplay being in a sunnier, less passive aggressive, and officially European city. Both Covent Garden locations, the Soho one, and King’s Cross spot are great locations for as many drinks and plates as you like.
Bits to order: Pan con tomate, tortilla, and a whopper carabinero
Ordinarily, a pub snacks banquet consists of scratchings, scampi fries, and every colour of crisps under the sun. Let us be clear: we never don’t endorse that. But if you’re after something a little more Mediterranean flavoured under the sun in Waterloo, then go to The Anchor & Hope. The menu changes, it’s always delicious, and you’ll settle in for hours.
Bits to order: Salady bits, grilled fishy bits, hot pudding and ice cream bits